Los Vejigantes

 
 

The name Vejigante comes from the Spanish word vejiga, meaning bladder, and gigante, meaning giant. Vejigante (bay-he-Gahn-tay) are used to scare people during carnival time. Vejigante’s often wear bat-winged jump-suits, roam the streets either individually or in groups and carry inflated cow bladders (vejigas) at the end of a stick. With these bladders they playfully hit people during the festivities. The traditional mask making is created of papier-mache and are part of the celebration before the Christian season of Lent. During the carnival people dress in brightly colored costumes and masks and parade around the town. The predominant mask colors, at least traditionally, were black, red and yellow, all symbols of hellfire and damnation. Today, pastels are more likely used. Each vejigante sports at least two or tree horns, although some masks may have hundreds of horns in all shapes and sizes.

A carnival is held in Loiza each year, where vejigantes are the main attraction, there are 4 main costumed characters: el Caballero (the knight), los vejigantes, los viejos, (the elders), and las locas (the crazy women). Masks can be seen in action at the three big masquerade carnivals on the island: the Ponce Festival in February, the Festival of Loíza Aldea in July, and the Día de las Mascaras at Hatillo in December. During the festival the 'Vejigantes' dress up in costumes and use the masks ( made of coconuts) that are still made and sold in Loiza. (The papier maiche vijigantes masks are from Ponce).


For more information about Los Vejigantes and the Masks of Puerto Rico

www.fodors.com/world/caribbean/puerto-rico/feature_30008.html

www.nea.gov/honors/heritage/fellows/fellow.php?id=1987_01

www.elyunque.com/vejigante.htm
www.preb.com/apuntes3/masks.htm


Note: LS denotes Loiza Style

         PS denotes Ponce Style

         Aceo denote a baseball card sized piece  2 1/2” x 3 1/2”


 

Puerto Rican Carnival Masks

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